Marquette Trio Ready for NBA

jerel-and-wesley

By: David Kay and Paul M. Banks

As a die-hard Marquette fan, it is hard to put into words the impact guards Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James have had on the program the past four years.  From day one, then head coach Tom Crean knew he had a special recruiting class, inserting all three into the starting line-up the very first time they suited up in a Golden Eagle jersey.  But each of the three-headed backcourt has taken a different road to get to their current situation, waiting to find out if they will be picked in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

In McNeal’s case, he has shown a steady improvement each year at Marquette.  As a freshman, the Hillcrest grad often looked like a chicken with his head cut-off; forcing wild shots and turning the ball over at a high rate.  His outside shot was as erratic as Britney Spears’ behavior circa 2006.  But year-by-year, McNeal continued to make strides with his all-around game.  His three-point percentage was almost 40% his senior season and he displayed the tenacity to be a go-to player at the collegiate level, creating his own shot off the dribble almost at will. That scoring instinct eventually allowed him to become Marquette’s all-time leading scorer and earned him second team All-American and first team All-Big East honors this past season.

Defensively, McNeal has always been a thorn in the opposition’s side as confirmed by his Big East Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2006-2007.  His ability to make a break on a ball in his passing lane to create steals or deflections is as natural as anyone’s in college basketball.

The biggest thing holding McNeal back is his “tweener” label.  The Chicago native measured in at 6’3” at the NBA Draft combine which is not the ideal size for an NBA shooting guard.  And while he occasionally ran the point at MU and has decent handles, he certainly is not a true point guard.  “I think initially the situation is I’ll be a bit of combo type guard,”   McNeal told TSB.net founder Paul M. Banks at the combine.  “The most important thing, and this is why I’m so confident I can do it, is be able to guard both positions…  From an offensive standpoint, it’s just a readjustment of a mindset of exactly what you need to do in a game.  It’s not that difficult for me.”  McNeal is pretty much a lock to be drafted in the second round, but I stand by my belief (and call it homering if you’d like) that if McNeal was two inches taller, we would hear his name being mentioned as a possible lottery pick.

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James’ career at Marquette is almost the complete opposite of McNeal’s.  While Jerel progressed season after season after season, Nic’s play peaked right off the bat in his freshman campaign.  The 5’11” point guard averaged 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in his first year in blue and gold, earning him Big East Freshman of the Year honors.  Those impressive numbers immediately thrust James onto the national scene and NBA scouts radars, with some projecting him as a future lottery pick.

James’ numbers dipped off his final three years at Marquette, massively dropping his draft stock.  There has never been a question regarding his athleticism.  To see someone his size dunk with ease, throwing down back-handed dunks like he was a power forward was almost breath-taking at times.  His ability to drive to the basket and create for open teammates has always been a strength as well.  The flaw in James’ game comes with his outside shot.  Consistency was a major issue as ‘Nic shot less than 30% from downtown during his senior season, at times erasing any confidence he had from the perimeter.

A late-season broken bone in his foot pretty much sealed James’ destiny to not be selected in the NBA Draft.  I caught up with James after he worked out for the Bucks in late-May.  He said his foot was still only about 75-80% healed.  “A lot of it is mental, just trusting it and knowing that I’m capable of doing the things I once could do,” James said. “That’s just the type of player I am.  I persevere through any adversity I face.”  The odds of James hearing his name called on Thursday are slim-to-none, but he should at least find a spot on some NBA team’s summer league roster.  Unless he wows some team, his basketball career will likely continue overseas.

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Of the three guards new to the scene at Marquette in 2005, I initially thought Matthews had the best chance of succeeding at the next level.  He arrived at MU with a solid combination of size, athleticism, and pure basketball skills.  While he was a serviceable complimentary player his first three years with the Golden Eagles, Matthews failed to live up to his full potential, playing third fiddle to McNeal and James.  Then Tom Crean left for Indiana.

Matthews wasn’t shy on senior night when he thanked first-year head coach Buzz Williams for “unleashing him.”  The Madison native made a huge leap during his senior season under Williams, averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage.  Matthews showed a consistency from beyond the arc, the ability to attack the basket off the drive, and played very physically as he often spent time at the four due to Marquette’s lack of height.  He was deservingly named second team All-Big East and his name started to appear on the second round of most mock drafts.

While no specific area of his game stands out above the rest, Matthews can offer his all-around talent to whichever team drafts him, likely late in the second round.  “I’m going to do whatever you need me to do,” Matthews told me after his work-out with the Bucks.  “I’m going to compete.  I’m going to work.  If my offense isn’t on, I’m always going to have my defense… I’m going to do everything possible to make whatever team I’m on, a better team.”  If Matthews isn’t drafted, he will certainly find a spot on a summer league roster and could be a steal as an un-drafted free agent.

Villanova Marquette BasketballPotential and upside aren’t words associated with any of the Marquette prospects.  It’s highly unlikely any of them will reach Dwyane Wade-type stardom in the NBA, but having spent four years being major contributors at Marquette should have prepared all three prospects for whatever lies ahead in the basketball careers.  Matthews echoed that thought.  “Along with Dominic and Jerel, we’ve been battle tested for four years.  We’re physically ready to play an 82 game season at what position you want us to play, at whatever role you want us to play in, and we’re only going to get better.”

McNeal agreed.  “I think any time you come into a situation where you get a guy, not just us three, but guys who have been in college for four years and have proven ourselves, from a competitive standpoint, on a night-in, night out basis, you know that you’re going to get a good solid competitive basketball player no matter what happens.”

No matter what happens next, their contributions to the Marquette basketball program won’t be forgotten any time soon, and hopefully all three can follow in the footsteps of Travis Diener and Steve Novak, and find a role in the NBA.

Marquette NCAA Tournament Live Blog

by: David K. and Quentin

(11:25 a.m.)  It’s go time.  After a season that started out with very high expectations and even realistic thoughts of a trip to the Final Four, Marquette begins their NCAA Tournament run with not a lot of hype due to losing five of their last six games.  Of course the Dominic James injury played a major factor in that losing stretch, but MU has played well and hung with five of the top teams in the country in those losses.  I will be live blogging during the Marquette/Utah State opening round game.  Please follow along and post comments and I’ll be sure to respond to any and all questions and/or comments.

(11:30 a.m.) Tip time… CBS is obsessed with the top angle of the opening tip and then zooming in the NCAA logo at half court.  My prediction: MU 78 Utah State 65

(11:33 a.m.) MU with all team shaved head look!  Not sure how I feel about that.  They look kinda goofy.  But if it helps them win, then I am all for it.  Why did Dom not shave his head?  SHOCKER… a terrible charge call on Dwight Burke to start the game.

(11:36 a.m.) Wesley rocking the headband, not Wayne Chism style, but I still like it.  The Boise crowd seems to be really pro-Utah State thus far.

(11:38 a.m.) From Quentin: “They announced during the ‘Cuse game that Stephen F. Austin has a guy who is 27.  The 26-year old on Utah State must be relieved.”

(11:41 a.m.) From Quentin: “Dood just said DJ was one of his favorites, guess that means we’ll constantly be reminded how much we miss him.”  “Utah State’s PG is a 23-year old junior.  Going on a Mormon mission is the prep school of Utah.”  Q is like Lazar right now and I am the rest of marquette, just getting out-produced.  Lazar has all ten of our points.  I love Lazar.

(11:45 a.m.) From Q: “So they’re running the Tom Crean ‘We have 400 offensive plays’ strategy.  I wonder if 394 of them are the 3-man weave at the top of the key before chucking a three as the shot-clock expires too.” 

(11:46 a.m.) Ah, the Travis Diener offense.  I think the whole “flash cards of plays” is very hig-schoolish.  Jimmy’s rocking the headband too.  By the way, every team should have a guy named “Jimmy” on their team.  It’s just fun to say.

(11:50 a.m.)  For the record, all times are posted in CST.  Sorry Acra.  From Q: “With the headband, Jimmy now looks like a cross between Wayne Chism and Landry from Friday night Lights”

(11:53 a.m.) Lazar just sprited a dunk.  If you don’t know what “spriting” a dunk is, it’s when you have a easy dunk but brick it off the back of the rim or don’t get high enough and get it stuck on the front of the rim.  Wesley just did a brilliant flop and drew the offensive foul call.  Well played Wesley.

(11:55 a.m.) I think they’ve mentioned Dwyane Wade’s name about 12 times already.

(11:56 a.m.) From Q: “For the 1247th time, I love these kids.  They seem to have come out with the exact attitude that I hoped for.”

(12:00 p.m.) 19-9 Marquette at the under 8 minute time-out.  Marquette’s defense is apparently pretty good right now as Dood (the color analyst) has mentioned about 14 times.  Plus, Utah State looks like a team that was really good in a really terrible conference.  Oh wait, that’s exactly what they were.  I heard Woody Paige picked Utah State to upset Marquette.  When I found that out, I became even more confident MU would win.)

(12:05 p.m.) Glad to see Syracuse is taking care of business, up 16 at the half.  I just had my DVR rewind of the game when Jerel blocked the dude’s lay-up by pinning it against the backboard.  We are playing dumb right now.

(12:10 p.m.) Lazar is kind of a black hole when he puts the ball on the deck, but it’s okay today.  Why are we doing 17-foot pull-up jumpers on fast breaks?  Isn’t one of our strengths attacking the basket in transition and getting lay-ups or fouls?

(12:12 p.m.) From Q: I would love to see ‘Rel get a couple of shots to drop.  He seems to be short-arming everything.”

(12:15 p.m.) I’m surprised Utah State doesn’t have more players rocking the t-shirt under the jersey.  It’s well-documented how much I hate that look.

(12:17 p.m.) I just said, “Uh-oh!  Oh, it’s only Cubillan” when there was a Marquette player grabbing his ankle.  That sounds kind of terrible, but is really the proper reaction.

(12:19 p.m.) From Q: “Big last minute and a half here.  Need to calm things down.”

(12:21 p.m.) Yeah, we’re lucky to be up eight at the half.  They looked pretty out of sorts in the last couple minutes.  Thankfully, Utah State can’t hit a shot.

(12:25 p.m.) My All-T-Shirt team: (C) Arinze Onuaku-Cuse (PF) Matt Howard-Butler (SF) James Harden-Arizona State (SG) Manny Harris-Michigan (PG) Jonny Flynn-Cuse

(12:33 p.m.) Q’s Halftime Thoughts: “Frustrated.  We’re letting them hang around and their fans are coming alive.  A great defensive effort but something needs to be done about ‘Rel.  I recall distinctly 4 great looks that he didn’t knock down.  When that’s happening, maybe we should ask someone else to take the isolation play?  Seems like we’re trying to get him started but it just isn’t happening.  The effort is there and we don’t seem to be playing tight so I feel like we hit a few shots, we’ll get things going.”

(12:40 p.m.) I’m feeling pretty good considering ‘Rel and Wesley were both cold in the first half.  We need to attack the basket more.  And it helps that Mo starts the second half with a three.

(12:45 p.m.) Utah State within three and Marquette looks lost on offense.  Not a good start to the second half.  Let’s figure it out here, huh?

(12:50 p.m.) 31-28, at the under 16:00 time-out.  Lazar is carrying us.  And yes, I am going to refer to Marquette as “we” and “us.”  If anyone sees Jerel McNeal, can you please ask him to show up in Boise?  Thanks.

(12:55 p.m.) A guy from Utah State just badly bricked a jumper and the announced said, “He tried to bank it in,” and I think he was serious.  Hoop and some harm for Utah State and we are tied.  Ugh.

(12:59 p.m.) Uh-oh, Wesley’s down and holding his shoulder or elbow.  That should help his broke jump shot and our lack of offense.

(1:06 p.m.) 36-35 10:47 left  Wesley’s ok.  His offense is not.  Nor is Marquette’s rebounding which is also non-existent.

(1:09 p.m) From Q: “HEY! A good call on the attempt for a charge.  I want their big guy shooting, not Quayle.”

(1:10 p.m.) 41-38, 9:09 left  Lazar hits a three and we seem to have some momentum until typical white under-sized shooting guard from Utah State drains a triple.  ‘Cuse wins.  Now we don’t have to hear anything about tired legs.

(1:11 p.m.) From Q: “And Quayle hits a three.”

(1:14 p.m.) 43-40 7:39 left  Lazar makes Bob Knight proud by using a pump fake to free up a 16-footer which he makes.  Aggies just won’t go away as their 84-year old center gets a bucket and foul.

(1:16 p.m.)  Utah State has a guy named Pooh.  Somewhere Pooh Richardson is angry. 

(1:17 p.m.) Utah State’s fundamentals are killing us and Wesley and ‘Rel miss back-to-back lay-ups.  Quayle hits a three, Utah State takes the lead for the first time.  We can’t buy a basket.  I’m getting angry.

(1:17 p.m.) From Q: “Quayle just hit another three.  I’m watching the last 5 and a half minutes with my hands over my eyes.”

(1:18 p.m.) Another Utah State three.  MU down 49-43.  I’m getting really angry and don’t want to check any of the four text messages I just received.

(1:21 p.m.) From Q: “The DirecTV commercial about using DVR from your phone: It’s a Tuesday and the game he wants to see starts at 7:30.  Who’s at a dinner party on a Tuesday?  How does said party almost end at 7:20.” 

(1:22 p.m.) I’m just glad it’s not the Fast and Furious commercial for the 67th time.

(1:24 p.m.) Quayle has four fouls.  ATTACK HIM!!!!

(1:26 p.m.) Why did it take Marquette 37 minutes to figure out that they should attack the basket and draw fouls.  Utah State just called “Spur 2” which thankfully means missing a three that goes out of bounds to Marquette.

(1:29 p.m.) From Q: “Suddenly, Wilkinson is Luke Harangody.”

(1:30 p.m.) I just threw up in my mouth A LOT.

(1:33 p.m.) From Q: “Ok, since I have an awful track record on jinxing these things.  I now am officially afraid of Wilkinson”

(1:35 p.m.) From Q: “What is the guy (announcer)?  He said “no” to that one before it even got to the backboard.  AND HE THINKS HE INTENDED TO USE THE BOARD?!?!?!!”

(1:37 p.m.) Ok, my computer just froze.  CBS switched off the Marquette game during important free throws.  Quayle and Jimmy fouled out.  Jerel showed up to make a play.  Marquette has hit free throws.  Some guy on Utah State just banked a three.  MU up 56-54 19.3 seconds left after nearly throwing the inbounds pass away.  I’m having a heart attack.  Seriously.

(1:38 p.m.) From Q: “Yeah, I feel like the world is spinning too fast right now.”

(1:39 p.m.) From Q: “Pooh is allowed to tackle someone?”

(1:40 p.m.) We hit our free throws.  We win 58-57.  I feel like I just ran a marathon or as a friend texted me, “had an orgie with the Swedish cross country skiing team.”  Marquette was lucky to win that.  Jerel and Wesley should be hugging Lazar all day and buying him some “entertainment” for the evening (assuming they have “entertainment” in Boise.) 

(1:43 p.m.) GO CORNELL!!!!

West Regional Bracket Breakdown

By: David K.

West Regional Bracket Breakdown
In the up-coming days leading up to the NCAA Tournament, I will breaking down each of four Regionals.  Yes, I have watched 242 college basketball games this year and have a pretty good understanding of the teams.  As a disclaimer, I will not be held responsible if you copy my picks and they are wrong.  So don’t yell at me if you take my advice and it backfires on you…

Overview: Outside of the obvious, Marquette being in the West, this Regional does not excite me very much.  UConn was awarded the number one seed instead of Memphis, and it’s possible the two teams will meet in the Elite Eight if the bracket plays out as expected.  Outside of the Huskies and Tigers, I can only see one other team realistically making it to the Final Four.

My Elite Eight Prediction: (5) Purdue beats (2) Memphis
I was high on the Boilermakers to start the season, picking them as one of my Elite Eight teams, and I am sticking to my guns.  They have been inconsistent this season due to injuries to starters Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer, but showed their potential now that they are healthy by taking the Big Ten Tournament title.  I think they have what it takes on both ends to knock off a UConn that I am just not very high on come tourney time.  Memphis has won 22 games in a row fueled by their overwhelming defensive effort.  The Tigers have a pretty easy path into the Elite Eight.

Sleeper: (6) Marquette

Purdue’s my real sleeper, but since I have already talked about them, I’ll throw out my thoughts about Marquette. I am glad the Selection Committee did not punish them for losing five of their last six games; with those losses coming to Louisville, Pitt, and UConn (all #1 seeds), and Syracuse and Villanova (both #3 seeds.)  MU was in each one of those games and has a fairly favorable second round match-up against offensive-minded Missouri.  I spoke with Wesley Matthews on Saturday night and he said this team still believes they can get to Detroit (site of the Final Four.)  They have played well against some of the top teams in the nation since Dominic James’ season-ending injury and could still make some noise.

Early Exit: (4) Washington
The Huskies have the four seed in this regional and a tough opening round game against Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs have won six in a row including the SEC Tournament, which was their only chance of in the Big Dance.  Mississippi State has a big man inside in Jarvis Varnado who can limit Washington’s double-double machine Jon Brockman, and also has the guards to slow down the Huskies talented duo of Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon.  Even if Washington gets past the first round, I don’t like their chances against Purdue in the second round.

Most Intriguing First Round Match-up: (7) California vs. (10) Maryland
In my opinion, both of these teams were over-seeded.  The Terps finished 7-9 in the ACC, 20-13 overall and were considered by many as more of a bubble team than they actually ended up being.  Neither team is playing great basketball right; Maryland has lost five of their last nine while Cal has dropped four of their last six.  Both teams rely on their guard play and this game will likely come down to whether or not Greivis Vasquez can carry Maryland like he has had to do much of the season.

College Hoops 101

By: David K.

Welcome to a weekly article at thesportsbank.net where I will give you the 101 on what has happened in the week of college basketball and what is to come in the days ahead.

Selection Sunday is six days away!!!!  Be sure to check back to thesportsbank.net frequently during the next couple weeks as I plan on dropping all sorts of college basketball knowledge for your reading enjoyment.

Rewind

-Five teams earned an automatic bid into the Big Dance; Cornell (Ivy League), Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley), Radford (Big South), Morehead State (Ohio Valley), East Tennessee St. (Atlantic Sun).  Northern Iowa is the only one that could actually make any first round-upset noise in the tourney.

-Bubbles are already being burst as upsets are knocking out big name teams from their conference tourneys.  Creighton, who lost in the semi’s of the MVC Tournament, now has to be considered for an at-large bid.  As does Stephen Curry and Davidson who fell to Charleston in the Southern Conference Semi’s.  Big conference bubble teams (like Moe Diddy’s Arizona Wildcats) hate seeing this happen.

-The bubble officially burst for the following teams: Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Maryland, Miami (FL).

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-The dreaded took place as Marquette lost to Pitt and Syracuse this past week, meaning they have now lost all four games since Dominic James’ injury.  MU has proven that without James, they can hang with any team in the country, but cannot get over the hump.  Barring a major run in the Big East Tournament, do not be surprised to see them end up with a 7, possibly even 8 seed come Selection Sunday.

-Convince me NOT to pick Pitt to win it all in my brackets.  I dare you.

-Kudos to Bill Self and Kansas.  Even after losing all the talent they did from last year’s National Championship team, the Jayhawks captured the Big 12 crown and put themselves in a position to have no lower than a #3 seed in the tourney.

My AP Top Ten (if I actually voted in the poll)

1. North Carolina (27-3)
2. Pitt (28-3)
3. UConn (27-3)
4. Memphis (28-3)
5. Louisville (25-5)
6. Oklahoma (27-4)
7. Wake Forest (24-5)
8. Michigan St. (25-5)
9. Gonzaga (25-5)
10. Duke (25-6)

Fast Forward

-I don’t even know where to begin.  Just please plan on watching some of the best college basketball yet this week.  I am setting a personal goal of 25 games this week, (my previous individual week high is 17)  Any social life is going out the window, unless it involves sitting at a sports bar, watching a 70-foot flat screen.  In which case, BOTTOMS UP!

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The Drive to 225

To update my goal of watching 225 college basketball games this season, which will be broken this week…  This should have been the week the Drive was accomplished, but a combination of the flu and a crazy weekend at work ruined those chances.  I’m actually a little upset about this because I missed A LOT of sweet games…

Games watched through 3/8: 223

Games watched this past week: 10
Villanova at Notre Dame
Rutgers at Syracuse
Marquette at Pitt
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Tennessee at South Carolina
UConn at Pitt
Syracuse at Marquette
Louisville at West Virginia
Standford at Arizona
Indiana at Wisconsin

Marquette-UConn Exchange

By: Quentin and David K.

TSB.net’s Quentin and David K. share their thoughts as they watch Marquette’s biggest game of the season, and a true test to see just how competitive MU can be come March Madness.

(Q) One minute in and we just heard that Buzz and Tom Crean “played phone tag all day.” Sounds about right for Indiana.

(DK) I think I just vomited a little bit in my mouth.  Do you think Buzz sends Crean fire extinguishers once a week just in case he decides to light himself on fire?

(Q) Just wondering: where does UCONN get their offense from?

(DK) We can’t let A.J. Price go off.  UConn is at their best when he is feeling it.

(Q) Isn’t the Marquette-gets-87%-of-its-offense-from-its-starters a bit overdone? How many teams have 4 guys who can put up 25+ on a given night?

(DK) What?  We don’t have a bench?  Really?

(Q) 30 seconds after we were told Stanley Robinson can’t shoot, Jimmy Butler fouls him on a jump shot pump-fake from beyond the free-throw line. Fantastic.

(DK) I am going to try and avoid making any jokes about Jim Calhoun’s press conference meltdown this past weekend.

(Q) 17:00 (left) – Marquette seems to be playing kind of dumb so far. Burke took a 12-footer which missed badly, the aforementioned Butler foul, giving up an easy alley-oop. I think it’s safe to say we’re a little too fired up right now.

(DK) Dwight Burke should never shoot the ball unless it is a dunk or free throw.

(Q) 14:36 – Dickie V just said “trifector.” Totally unrelated, but great moment on the BS Report today when the Sports Guy mentioned personalities on a certain network that have grown to be parodies of their former selves.

(Q) 12:38 – Props to Dan Shulman for being the first announcer I’ve heard that recognized that though Dominic’s scoring has dropped, he is a far better player now than he’s ever been.

(DK) Speaking of Dom, why has he been on the bench for the last four minutes?

(Q) 11:30 – Butler gets fouled again. Some good minutes from him thus far.  Just caught myself watching a commercial and remembered this is actually DVRd and I’m behind the live broadcast. YES!  Thabeet is back in for UCONN, could be some big minutes coming up.

(DK) Don’t even get me started about my affection for DVR.


(Q) 10:01 –The “Buzz sent tons of letters to coaches” story makes an appearance!

(Q) 9:14 – ESPN stops my heart with news that Dominic is out for the game. I wondered why Acker was getting so many minutes. I’m already rationalizing: yes, it’s a huge loss but it’s not the end of the world. Acker is a good backup and this gives more freedom to Jerel and Wesley. Defensively, it’s a big loss, of course. I’ve almost convinced myself that I feel better.

(DK) Yeah, I’m not all that concerned.  He’s our fourth most important player.

(DK) Lazar just hit a three to put MU up 26-22 to which TSB.net frequent commenter Jason Moe, who am I watching the game with says, “Flame on with your Junior High Name.”

(Q) 8:41 – Wesley dunks to put MU up 6, 28-22. Dickie V gives us the old “that was a good TO!” line. Of course, neither Crean nor Buzz ever calls those types of timeouts, especially on the road. Not sure what that means, just an observation.

(DK) Huge that Thabeet has pretty much been a non-factor thus far.

(Q) 8:27 – Stanley Robinson hits a three.  I thought he couldn’t shoot?

(Q) 7:24 – Thabeet with his third straight possession with a block as there’s contact between he and Wesley.  Seemed like something should’ve been called there.

(DK) Totally a foul.  And my apologies for jinxing us by saying Thabeet has been a non-factor.  They just showed Dickie V signing autographs at Marquette’s Golden Eagle Shop to which Moe responded, “Tell him to hook us up with some Hooters.”  I love Moe.  Speaking of Dickie V, he just said after a Thabeet dunk, “There’s no defense to stop that slam jam bam.”  More vomiting in my mouth.

(Q) 5:53 – I simply cannot judge offensive fouls anymore. I’m so used to them being overcalled that I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a valid one anymore. Lazar took one on Robinson that seemed ok.

(Q) 4:20 – It sounds like this mini-controversy with Jim Calhoun centers around the idea that he should give back some of his salary b/c the state of Connecticut is broke and had to fire some people. Is he paid by the state? I can’t imagine he is so why is this an issue? Just seems like some hack political activist trying to get noticed. Of course, Dick and Dan back Calhoun up b/c he and his wife donate a lot of money, as if that has anything to do with anything.

(Q) 3:52 – UCONN is up 10 and have all the momentum right now.

(DK) A 16-0 run will do that.  Did Calhoun give some of that $12 million that UConn’s program brings in to the refs because they are getting every call.  Not bad that the first Calhoun joke came 16 minutes into the game.

(Q) :47 – A 40-year old man just came off the bench for UCONN and hit a three! Thabeet looks 14, Stanley Robinson looks 30 and whoever this guy is has to be older than everyone on the bench except Calhoun. You win 800 games, you learn how to do it with kids of all ages I suppose.

(DK) I have watched A LOT of UConn this year and never seen this 40-year old Harrelson character play a single minute.

(Q) Down 43-37 at the half.  Overall, an up and down first half for Marquette in which they started slow, came on strong, then faded a bit. This one’s got all the …

(DK) Yeah, I feel like we should be down a lot more than six.  I’ll finish what you started… this is shaping up to be a great finish.

2ND HALF

(Q) Oh my. Price just crossed-over Jerel and gave him the “I’m disgusted with you” look before hitting the jumper. I am willing to admit that I love when guys do that

(DK) ESPN just announced Dom has a broken fifth metatarsal and it out for the game.  Ok, now I’m concerned…How long will he be out? Until the Big East Tournament? For the Year? Not good.

(Q) – After hearing that news, my eyes look as glossed over and bloodshot as Dominic’s right now. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one in the locker room crying as MU starts the second half looking totally disinterested. This might get ugly.

(Q) Looks like we got past that bit of lethargy and are back in the game at the first timeout of the second half. We needed those few buckets badly.

(DK) 15:58 Price just bombed his sixth three of the game.  We might want to think about guarding him.

(DK) 12:07 ‘Rel is starting to get that swag.  Wesley hits two free throws and MU is up one.  By the way, Moe just found a toy that makes a noise you would expect to hear at an arena after a made free throw and hits it anytime MU sinks one from the charity stripe.  You should all be jealous Moe is my friend.

(DK) 10:54 Tied at 65… This is turning into a Jerel vs. A.J. showdown.

(Q) Jerel seems to have accepted the challenge of being a leader with DJ out and is doing everything he can to fire up his ‘mates. For the 1,249th time this season: I freaking love this team.

(DK) 9:05 Thabeet and one… They are killing us on the boards.  No real surprise though.

(DK) 6:13 Foul on Burke… seriously?  UConn is getting every call.

(Q) The crowd seems to have officially lost its mind. Regular fans aren’t even sitting down anymore. I can’t imagine how great it would be to be in the Bradley Center right now. What an amazing game.

(DK) 4:32 Stanley Robinson just had his 73rd baseline dunk of the game.  What a crappy game for him to have a career night.  Another dumb foul by Marquette … UConn up 84-74.

(Q) UCONN is getting to every loose ball and rebound. I’m going to have nightmares of Stanley Robinson dunking tonight.

(DK) 2:53 Lazar offensive foul on a crucial possession with MU within five, saw that coming from a mile away.

(Q) There was no denying that one. As soon as he started stumbling toward the hoop, everything slowed down and you knew it was coming.

(DK) 1:15 A.J. three gives UConn the 89-81 lead and pretty much clinches the win.

(Q) – Glad we got to see the crucial play of the game with half the screen taken up by Jim Calhoun. Did you know that winning 800 games puts you in “pretty select company”, according to Dickie V? Apparently, simply having the 6th-most wins in D-I history wouldn’t prove that to you.

(DK) Tough loss especially with ESPN confirming that Dom’s career as a Golden Eagle is over.  A little surprising considering I fractured my 5th metatarsal in 7th grade and was only out 3 weeks.  Not sure how I want to digest this injury.  Our bench is now even thinner and what had the makings of being a very special season just took a major hit.  The hope is not gone, but this definitely hurts.  I feel terrible for Dom.  It reminds me of when Travis Diener suffered a broken wrist with a few games left in his senior season and ended up falling short of breaking MU’s all-time scoring record.  I’m going to call it a night and drink my sorrows away.

(Q) I’m a mess. I hadn’t really considered the thought that we weren’t going to win that game. And we had the opportunities, but every loose ball and rebound went to the Huskies in the last 8 minutes. Size was certainly a factor, combined with the fact that we just looked too ragged on the boards. I’m hoping against hope for better news in the morning on DJ. I agree that we can still make some noise but it would be callous to pretend losing DJ isn’t a huge hit to this team. His growth and willingness to change his role has been a major part of the success this year’s team has had. Acker isn’t much of a shooter but that willingness to pass should help Jerel, Wesley and Lazar. I was really impressed with his on-ball defense tonight as well. Where this really hurts though is the lack of depth we already had. I like our chances in the tourney more than I do in these next 2 road games. I’m off to the LOST island to forget this…